Ascot’s Friday meeting abandoned due to frozen track - Saturday 'looking bleak'

Ascot’s meeting on Friday has been abandoned due to a frozen track - with prospects for Saturday not looking promising and clerk of the course Chris Stickels admitting 'it looks a bit bleak'.

An 8am inspection had been called for Thursday morning to assess conditions for Friday, but with temperatures barely getting above freezing all day on Wednesday, an early decision was made.

The fixture was the first of a two-day meeting, with Saturday's feature event the Grade One Howden Long Walk Hurdle, which was won by Champ last year. An inspection has been announced for 8am on Friday to see if that can go ahead.

Stickels said at 4.30pm on Wednesday: "We're back at minus 1C now. The temperatures today just weren't sufficiently high enough to help us and they were lower today than they were yesterday.

"We are expecting it to get to minus 4C and maybe even colder tonight and again tomorrow night so there is no prospect of sufficient improvement ahead of Friday.

"We've also announced that we will inspect for Saturday at 8am on Friday.

"We've barely been above freezing all week and for sufficient improvement you need temperatures to get up higher than they have been.

"They have forecast us 5C for Saturday, but I don't think that will be enough as it was up to 5C last weekend and it still didn't come out.

"I think it looks a bit bleak."

The next scheduled National Hunt meeting in Britain is at Ffos Las on Thursday, where officials will have a 7.30am precautionary inspection.

The team at Haydock have already called an inspection for 8am on Thursday ahead of their Saturday fixture, with hopes not appearing to be high, while the Irish meeting at Naas on Thursday was cancelled following a Wednesday morning check. It will now be staged next Tuesday.

Uttoxeter, too, will inspect at 9am on Thursday for racing at the Midlands venue on Friday.

Even the all-weather action is under threat, with a precautionary inspection set to take place at 7.30am ahead of Chelmsford's Thursday card in anticipation of a minus 6C frost overnight.

Saturday's National Hunt fixture at Newcastle is another in doubt, with an inspection called for 8.30am on Thursday as areas of the course are frozen and temperatures set to dip to around minus 5C on Wednesday evening.

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